They carried me into the forest.
The sal trees, shaken by our clamour
Showered small soft flowers on us.
The trees’ slender trunks rose column-like
Into the leaves, and everywhere, that scent.
He was born on a floor of petals.
Later, he will talk about impermanence:
Bodies are flowers, fading.
Faded, the newborn.
Behind me I heard someone sobbing.
The women spread a cloth on the ground, draped
More from tree to
Tree. A queen should not give birth like
This: the charioteers listening, the sky shooting
Burning rays through leaves. It was a terrible May.
The ground was a cushion of dust: fine, simmering.
But I was shaking. Nothing could warm me.
They showed him to me.
My perfect child and he smiled, I know.
Centuries later people will
etch his smile into rock.
Two thousand years later,
Lay flowers at his image.
I did not know any of this, then.
On the women’s faces, drawn with despair,
I watched the verdict about my life
One raised a blood drenched hand
To stroke my face.
The forest blacked into silence.
I knew they would take
him home, safely.